In support of her ongoing exhibition Late to the Hut Sarah Adam had a korero…
1. How did you coin up the term “Urban Tapa”?
It was just one of those things that pop into your head and sticks and won’t go away so I figured I should embrace it. As a term it made sense to me as a way to try and separate the work I was making from the traditional concept of tapa and give it a relevance to my environment.
2. If you could master one tool/skill, what would it be?
Alchemy would be financially rewarding but the ability to always stay present would be the skill . Life is short so I don’t want to waste it thinking about the perceptions of the past or the fantasy of the future.
3. What’s your usual art making process/how do you work?
I create primarily with paint skins that are cast on glass, plastic or objects. These are between 1 -30 layers thick which I collage and layer until a certain visual density is created. I then distress it with combustion, chisels or other implements to give it the wabi sabi feel of the object having a history or having been on a journey. I work 6-7 days a week typically 9-10 hours in the studio each day.
4. What are some challenges and perks of being an artist?
The main perk is my commute to work is walking down 15 steps each morning! I also get to do something that is primordial and essentially human which is to create. The outcome of that creation is irrelevant the ability to make is all that counts. The challenge is once you fully surrender to being an artist it consumes you. I can’t do or see anything now that I am not automatically analysing colours shapes or form. Also the financial impact of committing to an artistic practice is well known. However I offset that by being an aware that when you know the outcome of something it is an event. I have no idea where my work will go or where it will take me and that is living.
5. Which 3 artists (dead/alive) would you like to have dinner with?
Mark Bradford, Robert Rauschenberg and Ralph Hotere.
6. What advice would you give to a younger Sefton starting out in the creative industry?
Find your community of fellow artists earlier than I did / am currently doing. These artists are your brothers and sisters that understand the solo war you go through in the studio. Also when in doubt especially before a show (and you always will be) read Martha Graham’s letter which is below. It is advice she gave to a dancer who thought her performance wasn’t good enough. I’m not sure if anything truer has been written in the art world ever. “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
7. What would you like to achieve within the next 10 years?
I paint because when I ask how can I make the world a better place the word painting flashes in my minds eye. In 10 years I hope I can get to a place where that is maximised. I trust if I give myself fully and honestly to that and don’t block the flow the universe will get me there.
8. What are 5 most important items/tools in your studio?
My laptop and the stereo connected to it and the 6 speaks that surround me with sound. That way I can control the tempo of the work in the studio depending on what I listen to.
Lighting in my studio. I have a lot of LED tubes to light it up but living in Piha we often have power cuts so when the power stops so does the painting.
My 2 big 2.5 metre long working tables which allow me to work on multiple pieces at once.
A butane torch, it’s how I get the interesting patinas on the paint.
The driveway outside the studio door. In summer it becomes a 15 metre extension of my studio where I can leave the skins out to dry.
Sefton will be exhibition his new series of works in the main gallery 15th August – 2nd September. For more info visit: depot.org.nz/event/seftonrani
Check out Sefton’s website: seftonrani.com